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U.S. Immigration Through the International Entrepreneur Parole Program The relaunched program aims to provide a new immigration solution for business owners looking to relocate to the United States.

By Shai Zamanian Edited by Russell Sicklick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The relaunch of the International Entrepreneur Parole program has provided an alternative immigration solution for international entrepreneurs to gain U.S. residency. Under the International Entrepreneur Rule, the Department of Homeland Security can use their parole authority to allow international entrepreneurs access to the U.S., provided that their business venture demonstrates a significant public benefit.

The history of the International Entrepreneur Parole Program

Having been initially introduced on January 17, 2017 by the Obama administration, the program was set to start accepting applications by July 17, 2017. However, on January 25, after Donald Trump took his position as the president of the United States, one of his first executive orders was to suspend the program until 2018, ultimately prohibiting applications before the program started.

Related: The International Entrepreneur Rule Wasn't Perfect, but the Trump ...

After the announcement of the suspension, the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In December 2017, the Federal Courts ruled in favor of the NVCA, vacated the rule for the suspension of the program and compelled the DHS to begin accepting applications. While applications were allowed to be processed, in May 2018 the DHS proposed the removal of the International Entrepreneur Rule program on the grounds that the program was not an appropriate vehicle for attracting and retaining international entrepreneurs. Evidently, the Biden Administration believed that reinstatement of the program will be in line with the holistic intent to restore faith in the American legal immigration system, and as such implemented the program's reinstatement in June 2021.

What is the International Entrepreneur Parole program?

The International Entrepreneur Parole program was designed with the intention of promoting foreign entrepreneurship in the U.S. The overall objective is to encourage international entrepreneurs to develop innovative start-up entities with high growth potential to be directly invested into the U.S. economy. These entities will further create an increase in direct and indirect job creation, and will thus have a positive impact on the U.S. labor market.

Under the program, international entrepreneurs can be granted temporary renewable residency for up to five years if they can prove that their business venture will be a significant public benefit, as well as promote growth and rapid job creation. The authorization to reside in the U.S. will be determined on a case by case basis by the DHS. The DHS will then use their statutory obligation of granting parole authority to those entrepreneurs who are deemed eligible.

While the program does not provide a route to citizenship, the temporary residential status provides authority for the entrepreneur to work on the progression of their start-up entity, and further extends to their immediate family members. Additionally, under the program rules, there can be multiple partners in the business who can receive residency. The program rules state that each entity can have up to three eligible entrepreneurs.

How is eligibility determined?

While the biggest criteria is that the business venture must demonstrate a public benefit to the country, entrepreneurs must also prove the following:

  • Substantial ownership interest in a start-up entity that has potential for rapid growth and job creation.

  • The entrepreneur must have a central active role in the business.

  • The start-up entity must have been created in the past five years in the U.S.

Related: Visas on Hold: What's Next for International Entrepreneurs?

Is this the best immigration solution for international entrepreneurs?

To truly determine which immigration route is beneficial to each individual is based on a series of moving elements. This particular one is a step forward to allowing greater access to the U.S. Unlike the E-2 visa, which looks at whether the investor's country of citizenship has a trade treaty with the U.S., the International Entrepreneur Parole program primarily looks at the merit of the business venture and how its contribution will be mutually beneficial. This further opens up opportunities for more innovative businesses that will adjust with the needs of the evolving and ever-changing world.

Related: The International Entrepreneur Rule and Innovation: Why ...

Shai Zamanian

Managing Director at The American Legal Center

Shai Zamanian, a U.S. licensed lawyer and founder and director of the American Legal Center, assists families in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region migrate to the United States through investment immigration programs.

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